CONFERENCE TIPS for ALA ANNUAL

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Revised March 2004

Before Conference

  • Check preview pages inFebruary edition of American Libraries. Mark programs and meetings of interest. Use ALA Handbook of Organizations for information about individual units and committees.
  • Think about why you are going to the conference and what you would like to get out of it. New developments or products? Networking or employment opportunities? It is easier to schedule your most important events if you know your priorities.
  • Ask friends and colleagues what they are involved in and what they enjoy. Try to attend meetings or programs with them at the Conference. Suggest that they introduce you to people.
  • Plan for follow-up. Many libraries ask employees to report back on their conference experiences. It is easier to synthesize needed information if you consider these questions before the conference.
  • Cooperate with co-workers. If multiple people from your library are attending, talk with them about attending different sessions and meeting to discuss your experiences afterwards. Stay focused.
  • Pack comfortable shoes. Pack light clothing that is comfortable but still professional.
  • Pack snacks such as granola or power bars, apples and a few small bottles of water (if you do not have space buy some snacks when you arrive).
  • Graduating or job hunting? Bring copies of your resume. Visit the area where interviews are conducted.

At Conference

  • Don’t feel overwhelmed with the HUGE program guide at registration. When you have a free moment (hopefully your first night at the conference), review the guide and revise your original schedule to fit the time and place of meetings. Don’t schedule time too tightly. Allow enough time to go from one meeting to another. Schedule time for relaxing and sightseeing.
  • Each day bring your revised schedule or tear out the program pages for that day as a reminder of meeting times and places.
  • Meetings and programs are at many different hotels in the city. The program guide provides maps which can help you gauge the distances between meetings. Don’t worry if you arrive a little late or if you need to leave early. Attendees regularly come and go from meetings and programs.
  • Meet People. NMRT events are always a good place to meet new people and colleagues! Introduce yourself to the people sitting next to you in sessions and in meetings. Ask for their business cards, and give them yours.
  • Make the Most of Programs. If you have never been to Annual before, make time to attend the NMRT Conference Orientation Program. Keep any notes you take with handouts from the program. This helps organize information for a report if you need it.
  • If you want to get involved, attend committee meetings and introduce yourself to the chairperson. NMRT guarantees a committee appointment to interested volunteers. This guarantee helps provide new members with the opportunity to gain committee experience and develop leadership skills.

At the exhibits

  • Allocate plenty of time for the exhibits. Don’t attempt to see all the exhibits in one day. Make several short trips. Use the program guide to select and find exhibitors.
  • Be sure to visit and thank those you deal with regularly and especially Gale, SIRSI, EBSCO, Alfred Jaeger, Brodart, Highsmith, 3M, and Quality Books who are longtime NMRT supporters.
  • Use Conference Services. Don’t pick up everything you see in the exhibits hall. Ask exhibitors to send you information after the conference. For materials you do pick up, make use of the on-site postal centers to ship materials back home or use bag check services. You will have a much easier time if you aren’t trying to carry everything. If you have business cards, use them. Or, some people bring self-addressed labels.
  • Attend the exhibits early in the conference before vendor giveaways run low.

Other Conference Tips

  • Check Cognotes, the daily conference newspaper, for last-minute additions and changes.
  • Wear your badge to meetings and social events, but not on the street. This "brands" you as a visitor and a possible target.
  • Attend vendor luncheons and receptions, talk to people in meetings, on the shuttle buses and at other events.

After Conference

  • Keep Connections. Follow up with colleagues or presenters that you met. Getting to know new colleagues and peers is one of the most rewarding components of conference attendance.
  • Apply Your Experiences. Even if you are not required to report on your time at conference, you will retain new information and ideas better if you discuss them with co-workers. Share your notes or experiment with new ideas that learned about at conference.

ENJOY THE CONFERENCE!

Sources:

Kilian, C. and D. Hukai. “Conference Island.” T+D(April 2002).
Danowitz, Erica. “NMRT SASCO Conference Tips” [based on tips compiled by Priscilla Shontz and Marilyn Tsirigotis]. (June 2000)